When searching for the perfect present for a new mother, the gift of your time is always appreciated. Preparing a meal for the family, presenting it in a pretty casserole dish that she can keep, and including the recipe with the casserole makes a great gift and keepsake for the new mother.
A casserole describes both the container and the contents. Casseroles have been prepared since the earliest times and can be a savory or sweet dish. Casseroles became popular in America during the Depression and grew in popularity into the 1940s. Then and now, in times of economic hardship, a casserole is the perfect way to feed a family on a budget.
In the 1950s, convenience was the main reason for the continuing popularity of casseroles. Modern cooks liked the ease of opening a few cans and packages to create a meal. When I was a new bride and college student in 1975, casseroles were the perfect remedy for my woefully limited cooking skills and lack of time.
A casserole is an easy way to create a budget-friendly meal, or to stock my freezer with crowd-pleasing dishes that can be reheated in the microwave. It’s also the perfect meal and gift for a new mother and her family.
This recipe for bean and cheese tortilla casserole freezes well, can be increased to feed more people fairly easily, or transformed from a vegetarian dish to include the meat of your choice.
Bean and Cheese Tortilla Casserole
You can add cooked and crumbled ground meat or shredded chicken to this vegetarian casserole, if desired. Just place the meat on top of the bean sauce and continue with the directions.
3 cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1-1/2 cups mild to medium salsa
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
12 corn tortillas
2-1/2 cups shredded Manchego, Swiss or Monterey Jack cheese
Mexican cream or regular sour cream, for drizzling, optional
4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine olive oil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, and heat on high for 4 minutes until the onion is soft.
3. Using food processor or blender, combine onion mixture, beans, broth, salsa, chili powder, cumin and oregano together until smooth. Pour bean mixture back into a bowl and microwave on high for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the beans are hot.
4. Place about 1/2 cup of the bean sauce into the bottom of an 8 to 9-inch square baking pan or casserole dish. Place 4 of the tortillas, with the sides overlapping, on top of the bean sauce. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Cover with another 1/2 cup of the bean sauce. Place another 4 tortillas, with sides overlapping, on the bean sauce. Sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Repeat bean sauce, tortillas and finish with cheese layer. Bake until the cheese is melted about 10 to 15 minutes.
To serve, drizzle with Mexican sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro, if desired.
Serves 4. ••
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her Web site is www.divapro.com
To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook and go to Hulu.com